Our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. We shun the rugged battle of fate, where strength is born. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The idea of “being realistic” holds all of us back. From starting a business or quitting a job to dating someone who may not be our type or moving to a new place – getting “real” often means putting your dreams on hold. Today, let’s take a step away from rational thought and dare to be bold. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue? Write it down. Also write down the obstacles in your way of reaching your goal. Finally, write down a tangible plan to overcome each obstacle.
Doubting vs. Believing the unbelievable
Overthinking vs. Instinct
Hesitating vs. Intuition
Being Realistic vs. Battling with fate
Aren’t these the classic rivalries of a so-called “mature person”?
As long as I can remember, my quintessential struggle has been to hang on to my naivete – that spark in my soul that sometimes seemingly childishly argues: “It is TOO possible” when all other voices are practically screaming: “THIS IS RIDICULOUS.” Maybe this is why Jesus suggests that the disciples needed to become like a child in order to enter the kingdom. If ever there was a person who acted on instinct and intuition, who battled against the inexorable trajectory of fate, who, with every step, showed people how to believe the unbelievable, it was Jesus. He seemed to grasp the reality that God’s vision for the world a.k.a. the “kingdom” of God wouldn’t evolve through ordinary channels, by making safe choices, by never pushing against the status quo, by thinking things through, developing a business plan, a marketing strategy and then running it by potential funders to see if it would fly (or at least if they would be willing to invest in such a venture).
Sorry for the mini-sermon. Occupational hazard!
Let’s get to the question/prompt: What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue?
To even speak it outloud online is scary. By this time in my life I’ve had plenty of practice putting things on back burners or removing them from the menu altogether. I bet a lot of us have. I’ve been well-trained to leave myself and my desires in the background. I’m pretty good at it – so good that when I actually claim something for myself, some people think there’s something wrong with me. Some, in some weird mynah bird echo of the voice in my own head, have even called that claim self-centered. Interesting how easy it has been for me to train others that my hopes and dreams are subordinate to theirs.
Even now, I find it easier to write ABOUT what the prompt evokes in me than to answer it.
I guess that’s because the one thing I’ve always wanted to accomplish has been on my mind since high school and that’s a long, long time to hold a dream at bay. That one thing is this: I want to write a book.
There. Now it’s out there for the 3 or 4 of you who are reading this. And perhaps that’s the good news: so few people will actually see this post that if it doesn’t come to pass, nobody will really notice. I say that because I know that fear of failure is my biggest obstacle. Some potential authors might worry that they wouldn’t have anything worth saying. Others might not have sufficient time to dedicate to the project. Still others might list lack of resources to take the chance. And while some of these are also in the back of my mind, my biggest roadblock will be that I abhor failure. In myself, that is.
I’m really good at encouraging others to try and see what happens. For at least 10 years I’ve been encouraging church members to take risks and try some new things without worrying too much about whether there’s a snowball’s chance in Arizona of succeeding. It’s been easy for me to say to someone else that there’s potential in the struggle, power in the takeaways that even failed attempts offer. And, I’m pretty good at helping the “try-ers” see the benefit of their undertakings. It turns out that I stink at taking my own advice.
So what would a “tangible plan” for overcoming this obstacle look like? I have no idea.
- Mentors? Encouragers? That would mean bringing more people into the circle of trust. SCARY!
- “Just Do It” a la Nike? That means I would actually have to get one of the many outlines I have and put some flesh to them, get them submitted and wait for the YAY! or NAY! That just sounds horribly frightening.
This is not much of a plan, but it is now out in the web-o-sphere and I will have to reread it from time to time. Maybe that will provide the impetus I need. The question of the moment? Is my sense of shame for lack of trying greater than my fear? We’ll see.